Skip advert
Advertisement

The new Volkswagen Golf R could also be the last petrol version

With the Mk9 Golf set to go all-electric, the newly updated Mk8.5 Golf R could be the final petrol-powered hyper-hatch from Volkswagen

The future of Volkswagen R is battery-powered, with the performance sub-brand planning a transition to all-electric by 2030. It means the likes of the petrol-powered Golf R aren’t long for this world – in fact, the new Mk8.5 version will be the last generation of the model as we know it. 

Advertisement - Article continues below

An all-new Mk9 Golf will launch later in the decade and be all-electric, and Volkswagen has made this last combustion-engined Golf R not only the most powerful version yet, but given it a host of updates to its design and interior to make it more modern and user-friendly. 

As before, the ubiquitous EA888 turbocharged four-cylinder engine is the R’s power source, generating 328bhp, a 12bhp uplift over what has gone before and the same as the outgoing Mk8 Golf R 20 Years model. As with the special edition car, the new R also features a revised engine calibration to keep the throttle valve open and the turbo primed under light loads when in the sportiest drive modes, resulting in improved response when you get back on the power. From our experience of an early Mk8.5 prototype, it does give the engine more snap and urgency. 0-62mph comes up in 4.6sec, with a top speed of 155mph (or 167mph with the optional Performance package).

Skip advert
Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Peak torque remains at 310lb ft, driving through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox only to all four-wheels. The R’s torque vectoring rear differential remains, enabling up to 100 per cent of torque to the rear axle to be diverted to either rear wheel. This allows the car to overdrive the outside rear to rotate the car out of corners – or pitch it into bigger slides when Drift Mode is activated. 

Other driving modes are Eco, Comfort, Sport, Race, Individual and Special, the latter designed for the Nürburgring with an aggressive powertrain map and a softer damper calibration. The Eco setting is new for the Mk8.5 and has allowed engineers to dial in more aggression for the Comfort and Sport modes. The Golf R’s interior noise generator and Akrapovic exhaust have been retuned to produce a better sound, even though European noise regulations prevent it from being any louder than before. 

Advertisement - Article continues below

The chassis has undergone some very minor calibration tweaks, with the rear diff now said to have more predictable locking characteristics when driving in mixed wet/dry conditions. Adaptive DCC dampers continue to be offered with 16 stages of firmness, and the Mk8.5 can be optioned with new forged 19-inch wheels that are 20 per cent lighter than alloy items while providing more cooling air to the brakes. 

Not much has changed in terms of the R's design, aside from new bumpers, LED lights and an illuminated Volkswagen badge on the nose. The changes to the interior are more meaningful, with Volkswagen overhauling the Golf’s infotainment system with a new 12.9-inch touchscreen running the firm’s latest MIB4 software. It’s said to offer more intuitive menus and faster responses, while the Golf’s sliding touch controls for media volume and temperature are now backlit – finally.

The Mk8.5 retains haptic touch controls on the steering wheel but these now require a firmer push to activate (if you’ve driven a Golf R, you’ll know how easy it is to accidentally press the R drive mode and heated steering wheel buttons on the move). A 10.2-inch digital dial pack also comes as standard, and the R now gets a digital GPS lap timer for data logging around a track. 

Pricing for the Golf R is yet to be announced, but expect It to cost in excess of £40,000 when it goes on sale in the UK, with the estate version costing a little more. 

Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

Alpine A290 prototype review – first taste of new electric hot hatch
Alpine A290 prototype
Reviews

Alpine A290 prototype review – first taste of new electric hot hatch

Alpine’s all-electric future starts here, with the A290 hot hatch. We test a prototype in the frozen north
19 Jul 2024
Ford Focus ST Track Pack v Honda Civic Type R: sharpened Focus tackles the hot hatch king
Ford Focus ST Track Pack v Honda Civic Type R
Group tests

Ford Focus ST Track Pack v Honda Civic Type R: sharpened Focus tackles the hot hatch king

The Civic Type R has so far seen off all challengers, but will it meet its match in the trackday-friendly Focus ST?
8 Jul 2024
Fast Ford heaven: a tour of the ultimate Ford garage
Ford Heritage Collection tour
Features

Fast Ford heaven: a tour of the ultimate Ford garage

Who doesn’t love a fast Ford? Prepare for a nostalgia overload as we get a guided tour of Ford UK’s magnificent, newly rehomed Heritage Collection
7 Jul 2024
The Mini JCW E Prototype provides a sneak peak at firm’s hottest electric hatch
Mini John Cooper Works E Prototype – front
News

The Mini JCW E Prototype provides a sneak peak at firm’s hottest electric hatch

Mini’s first electric JCW model will debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in prototype form
5 Jul 2024
Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

New EU tyre rules could save motorists £6 billion in new tyres
Tyres
News

New EU tyre rules could save motorists £6 billion in new tyres

400 million tyres per year are replaced before reaching the legal limit for tread depth, but new EU regulations will make tyres safer right down to 1.…
17 Jul 2024
The Porsche Panamera now has more power than a McLaren 750S
Porsche Panamera – front
News

The Porsche Panamera now has more power than a McLaren 750S

New GTS and Turbo S E-Hybrid models have been added to the Panamera range, the latter offering a staggering 771bhp from an electrified twin-turbo V8
18 Jul 2024
Theon Design GBR003 2024 review – a Porsche 911 Targa with GT3 performance
Theon Design GBR003
Reviews

Theon Design GBR003 2024 review – a Porsche 911 Targa with GT3 performance

For its third UK commission, the Oxfordshire-based Porsche restorer and enhancer has turned its attention to a Targa, and the result is out of this wo…
19 Jul 2024